Health CareTips and IDEAS

Electric toothbrushes: Can they really damage your teeth?

The American Dental Association recommends twice-daily brushing and once-a-day flossing for healthy teeth and gums. You can choose your toothbrush from an endless array of colors, shapes, and designs. Among your many options are electric toothbrushes that promise a just-went-to-the-dentist clean feeling. These motorized models are super-popular, but can using this high-powered cleaner twice a day damage your teeth?

The popularity of the electric toothbrush

Electric and battery-operated toothbrushes are designed with fast-moving bristles that promote cleaner teeth and gums. These devices are typically equipped with one or several detachable heads that should be changed regularly. Less-expensive models come with one or two brushing speeds, while pricier versions boast several speeds, reminder lights, and even timers.

Because they’re powered by more than just the human hand, electric toothbrushes do not require the use of great pressure. In fact, applying too much pressure – or over-brushing – may actually do more harm than good.


The problem with over-brushing

The biggest potential problem with brushing – whether using a manual or motorized toothbrush – is over-brushing or applying too much pressure to the teeth and gums. Dentists advise patients to stick to a time limit and opt for soft bristles to avoid damaging the enamel. But with electric toothbrushes, the problems that occur are not always caused by “user error.”

No one expects their toothbrush to break in their mouth or to get small pieces lodged in their throat. But according to the FDA, these are serious potential problems with some of the top-selling brands on the market. Even though the manufacturers follow tight regulations and the toothbrushes are backed by the ADA, dangers can arise from poor construction and mishandling. Among the complaints that have been reported are cuts to the mouth and gums, broken teeth, swallowing and choking on toothbrush pieces, and even face and eye injuries.

Beyond these serious and painful issues, over-brushing with a high-powered device can lead to bleeding gums, gum recession, and enamel abrasion. The good news is that modern cosmetic dentistry procedures can easily correct the damage, especially if caught quickly enough.

  • Bonding is one of the easiest and most affordable solutions for repairing cracks or chips in the enamel.
  • Porcelain veneers are wafer-thin shells that affix directly to existing teeth and can cover any minor to moderate dental concern, including broken or badly stained teeth.
  • If your toothbrush knocks out a tooth, a crown or dental implant may be necessary.
  • And if receding gums are the issue, your dentist can show you a more effective way to brush to prevent further damage. (A gum graph may be necessary to correct existing damage.)

It’s hard enough to leave the house anymore without worrying about getting back home in one piece. Taking care of your teeth should not be one of your worries. Hopefully, you’ll never encounter an attack of the toothbrush!

If injuries do occur, contact Sachar Dental, your Midtown Manhattan cosmetic dentist, as soon as possible. Electric toothbrushes can be a successful part of oral health care.

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